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Kezia Dugdale not suspended by Labour over I’m A Celebrity

Kezia DugdaleImage copyright Rex Features
Image caption Kezia Dugdale has arrived in Australia for the show

Kezia Dugdale will not be suspended from the Scottish Labour Party over her decision to join reality TV programme I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!

The MSP and former party leader has been the subject of heated debate after agreeing to join the ITV programme.

Ms Dugdale was not given permission by the party to go on leave to Australia during the Holyrood term.

But a meeting of MSPs on the Scottish Labour group concluded that she “would not face suspension”.

New leader Richard Leonard had previously said he was “not persuaded” that his predecessor should be punished in this manner, despite his own “personal disappointment” and strong criticism from others in the party.

Lothians MSP Ms Dugdale has arrived in Australia and is expected to make her debut on the programme this week.

She is expected to be paid tens of thousands of pounds, part of which she will donate to charity, along with her MSP’s salary for the three weeks she is away.

Image copyright Rex Features

Scottish Labour business manager James Kelly said the MSP group had discussed Ms Dugdale’s “unauthorised leave of absence from her parliamentary duties”, but had decided against sanctioning her in the immediacy.

He said: “Today, the group concluded that Kezia Dugdale would not face suspension.

“In accordance with standard procedure, Kezia Dugdale will be interviewed on her return to parliament and have the opportunity to present her account of events.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Leonard is “disappointed” by Kezia Dugdale’s television appearance

Criticism of Ms Dugdale has chiefly come from within her own party, with fellow MSP Neil Findlay calling the decision “ludicrous” and MP Jess Phillips calling her a “hypocrite”, given she previously called Tory MP Nadine Dorries “daft” for going on the show.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was not something she would want an SNP MSP to do, but also Tweeted that she was on “#TeamKez”.

Ms Dugdale was defended by her partner, the SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth, who told reporters at Holyrood that she was “very proud” of her.

She said: “Why wouldn’t she use that opportunity to get her views across to millions of people? I think some of the comments have been unfair – it’s really hurtful actually that she saw some of that commentary over the weekend.

“She was quite hurt by some of those things but she’s taken a lot of spirit from the good-luck messages she’s had from lots of people. I think Scotland is rooting for her.”

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Gaia Pope death: Arrested family want police apology

Gaia PopeImage copyright PA
Image caption Gaia Pope’s body was found 11 days after she went missing

A 19-year-old wrongly arrested on suspicion of Gaia Pope’s murder has been “on the verge of a mental breakdown”, his mother has said.

Nathan Elsey was detained alongside his grandmother Rosemary Dinch, 71, six days after Miss Pope, 19, disappeared.

Deborah Elsey said she had “no idea” why her son was a suspect and has called on Dorset Police to apologise.

The force, which has released the pair without charge, said officers would have had “multiple grounds for arrest”.

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Media captionGaia Pope’s father Richard Sutherland said the family would “treasure her always”

Mrs Elsey, a family friend of Miss Pope’s, said her son’s arrest was a “horrendous shock”.

‘Every single emotion’

Her brother Paul Elsey was also arrested on suspicion of murder and later released.

Mrs Elsey said she and the three arrested family members were staying with her brother Greg.

“We’re still not in our homes and still have none of our personal effects. At the very least I’d like an apology,” she said.

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Media captionFamily friend Rosemary Dinch was the last person to see Gaia Pope before she went missing

“We’re going through every single emotion rolled into one – you don’t know what you’re feeling.

“One minute you want to cry for yourself, then you cry for Gaia and her family and then there’s anger for police.”

Miss Pope was reported missing from Swanage, Dorset, on 7 November.

Her body was found on Saturday 18 November in a field near the town.

A post-mortem examination conducted the next day did not identify any injuries to suggest the involvement of other people, Dorset Police said.

On Monday, the force announced Paul Elsey, Ms Dinch, and Nathan Elsey were to face no action.

It is treating the death as “unexplained” pending toxicology results.

In statement the force said: “We appreciate our enquiries would have caused these individuals stress and anxiety, however we have an obligation in any missing person investigation to explore every possible line of enquiry.”

Image copyright PA
Image caption The family say they have not been allowed back in their homes since the arrests

‘Heartbroken’ Royal writes to Bradford family after learning of baby Kia’s meningitis battle

A MEMBER of the Royal Family says she is “completely heartbroken” at the plight of a Bradford baby who has had all four limbs amputated because of meningitis.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, has written a letter of support to the family of Kia Gott, who is fighting the worst case of meningitis doctors have seen in decades.

Eleven-month-old Kia, from Wyke, is on a high dependency unit facing a series of skin grafts and being weaned off a drug stronger than heroin.

Now the family has received a personal letter from the Countess, who is Patron of the Meningitis Now charity.

In it, she says: “I wanted to write to you after learning about your beautiful baby daughter, Kia.

“I am completely heartbroken and devastated by Kia’s prognosis and can’t begin to imagine how you are feeling at this impossibly difficult time.

“I am so very sorry for what you are going through. I know words are inconsequential but I felt compelled to reach out,” she wrote and ended the letter saying: “I wish you peace, strength and hope as Kia rebuilds her strength and I send my love to your family.”

Doctors have warned that baby Kia could lose her sight, her hearing and be 90 per cent brain damaged by meningitis C septicaemia. But her aunt, Donna Gott, described Kia as “remarkable” and said she was “meant to be here” but added that she was still “far from being out of the woods.”

Last week, doctors told Kia’s mum and dad her gut had stopped working and if it did not heal, there would be little else they could do for her.

“She’s a tough little cookie, she’s meant to be here. She looks like a little teddy bear in bed,” said Mrs Gott, who added that Kia would next need to be weaned off a drug called Fentanyl, a painkiller stronger than heroin.

She also said the family did not believe Kia was fully blind and deaf because she was following her mum Vikki’s voice.

Kia, who has an older brother Kayden, eight, and four-year-old sister Elsie, is starting to put on a bit of weight and has grown two teeth since being in hospital.

Meanwhile, a brain scan taken after she did not wake up for one week has shown there is no further deterioration or infection. She faces a series of skin grafts from her back and belly and will stay in the high dependency unit at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) until around January.

Mrs Gott said: “We are also having a special doll made with amputations for her sister Elsie to help her understand what Kia is facing, Elsie keeps asking when will Kia’s legs grow back.

“We also started a trend #shesnotjustanumbertous and #vaccinateourbabiesagainstmenigitis. Were trying to get people to share on social media.”

Kia’s dad Paul has since slammed the NHS for its decision to stop giving babies under 12-months the MenC vaccine. The vaccine for 12-week-old babies was discontinued from the NHS childhood vaccination programme last July because there were almost no cases in the UK. Instead, all children are now offered a Hib/MenC vaccine on their first birthday – Kia was just three months away from being given it when she fell ill in September.

Wellwishers at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/emma-simpson-2 have brought in more than £26,000 for the family. Her other aunt Terri Mitchell wrote on the page: “Kia has had her 4th amputation and is still fighting. She’s a little sleepy after all her ops. Keep praying and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all your well wishes and donations.”

Kia’s dad discovered the rash on his daughter’s face, neck and chest – a known symptom of meningococcal septicemia – after going to check on her in the middle of the night.

Paramedics arrived fast but her veins had collapsed, so they had to drill into her tiny shin to give her emergency drugs. While that was happening, she had a mini cardiac arrest, said Mrs Gott. Kia was rushed to Bradford Royal Infirmary where medics told her family it was meningitis and she was not likely to survive. She was transferred to LGI where doctors told the family it is the worst case they have seen for 25 years.

Meningitis Now’s helpline number is 0808 80 10 388

Teacher turned MMA fighter to be retried over sex charges

TEACHER turned mixed martial arts fighter Brad Conway is to face a retrial on July 30 next year on two offences that the jury could not reach verdicts on.

Conway, 36, was cleared at Bradford Crown Court of six counts of rape, two of sexual assault, two of voyeurism and a single charge of false imprisonment.

The Crown will retry him on single charges of rape and committing an offence with intent to commit a sexual offence.

Conway, formerly of Wibsey, now of Balmoral Place, Halifax, was bailed until the new trial, which is set to last seven days.

Gaia Pope struggled with health before her death, father says

Gaia PopeImage copyright PA
Image caption Gaia Pope’s body was found 11 days after she went missing

Teenager Gaia Pope had “struggled” with health issues before her death, her father has said.

Police are treating the 19-year-old’s death as “unexplained” after her body was found in a field near Swanage on Saturday.

Her father Richard Sutherland, said his daughter had had “a lot of issues” and “clearly just couldn’t cope with that.”

Three people who were arrested on suspicion of her murder will face no further action, police said earlier.

Paul Elsey, 49, his mother Rosemary Dinch, 71, and her 19-year-old grandson, Nathan Elsey, were all questioned about Ms Pope’s disappearance.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Miss Pope’s body was found close to where items of her clothing were discovered two days earlier

Her body was found 11 days after she was reported missing in Swanage, on 7 November.

A post-mortem examination did not identify any injuries to suggest the involvement of other people, Dorset Police said.

The force is awaiting the results of toxicology tests.

Paul’s father, Greg Elsey, said Ms Pope was clearly “on the verge of a nervous breakdown” when she visited Mrs Dinch in an agitated state on the day she disappeared.

He said her health problems included a previous breakdown as well as epilepsy.

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Media captionGaia Pope’s family give statement

In a statement, Ms Pope’s mother Natasha described her daughter as “a light that will radiate for all eternity”.

“A wise, magnificent soul that burns far too bright for this world,” she said.

“Her spirit overflows with love and compassion for others. Gaia our free spirit, our wild pony.”

‘Very vulnerable’

Mr Sutherland thanked the emergency services and members of the public who joined searches for his daughter.

He said his daughter had “happy moments… right up into the end of her life“, despite her health problems.

Her cousin Marienna Pope-Weidemann said Ms Pope had been “very, very vulnerable, but such an inspiration”.

She said she was determined that “lessons will be learned” from Ms Pope’s death.

Visibly upset, she said: “It should not have taken 11 days to find her so close and we need to know why.”

Image copyright PA
Image caption Gaia Pope’s father Richard Sutherland thanked members of the public before a community search on Saturday

Following her disappearance, searches by police, the coastguard and police helicopter – along with hundreds of volunteers – were carried out in the Swanage area.

On Thursday, police discovered clothing belonging to Ms Pope on open land outside the town.

Her body was found two days later in the same area.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Search and rescue teams scoured the open space above the cliffs near Swanage

Three face no action over Gaia Pope death

Gaia PopeImage copyright PA
Image caption Gaia Pope’s body was found 11 days after she went missing

Three people who were held over the death of teenager Gaia Pope will face no further action, police have said.

Paul Elsey, 49, his mother Rosemary Dinch, 71, and her 19-year-old grandson, Nathan Elsey, were all arrested on suspicion of murder.

They were questioned by detectives over the disappearance of 19-year-old Miss Pope, who went missing from Swanage, Dorset, on 7 November.

Her body was found on Saturday in a field near the town.

A post-mortem examination was conducted on Sunday but did not identify any injuries to suggest the involvement of other people, Dorset Police said.

The force is treating the death as “unexplained” pending toxicology results.

Image copyright PA
Image caption A police cordon was set up in a field near Swanage after Miss Pope’s clothing was found on Thursday

Det Supt Paul Kessell, of Dorset Police said: “Following the results of the post-mortem examination and other ongoing investigative enquiries, we have concluded that no-one else was involved in Gaia’s death.

“As such we have today released from our investigation two men aged 19 and 49 and a 71-year-old woman, all from Swanage, who had been arrested and were assisting with our enquiries.

“I appreciate our enquiries would have caused these individuals stress and anxiety, however we have an obligation in any missing person investigation to explore every possible line of enquiry.

“The public would expect Dorset Police to fully investigate the sudden disappearance of a teenage girl. Our aim was not only to find Gaia but to find out what happened to her.

“Gaia’s family has been informed of this latest development and our thoughts remain with all her family and friends at this incredibly difficult time.”

Image caption People in the town came together at the church to say prayers and light candles on Sunday night

Following her disappearance, searches by police, the coastguard and police helicopter – along with hundreds of volunteers – were carried out in the Swanage area.

On Thursday, police discovered clothing belonging to Miss Pope on open land outside Swanage.

Her elder sister, Clara Pope-Sutherland, said the 19-year-old was the “light of my life” and “intelligent, beautiful and emotionally wise”.

On Sunday evening a church service was held at St Mary’s Church in Swanage with candles lit in memory of Miss Pope.


The search for Gaia Pope

Image copyright Gaia Pope

7 November: Miss Pope is driven by a family member from Langton Matravers to Swanage. At 14:55, she is seen on CCTV at St Michael’s Garage buying ice cream. The last confirmed sighting is at 16:00 at an address in Manor Gardens on Morrison Road

8 November: Her family makes a plea through police for her to make contact. Dorset Police says it is “becoming increasingly concerned”

9 November: Searches by police, the coastguard and force helicopter are carried out in the Swanage area. Miss Pope’s relatives release a statement saying they are “frantic with worry”

10 November: CCTV footage shows Miss Pope on Morrison Road, Manor Gardens, at 15:39 on 7 November

13 November: Rosemary Dinch and Nathan Elsey are arrested on suspicion of murder and released under investigation

14 November: Searches continue with the coastguard and volunteers from Dorset Search and Rescue and Wessex 4×4

15 November: CCTV images of Miss Pope at St Michael’s Garage are released. Searches continue to concentrate inland

16 November: Paul Elsey is arrested on suspicion of murder. Miss Pope’s clothing is discovered in a field near Swanage and a police cordon is set up

17 November: Mr Elsey is released under investigation

18 November: Police discover a body near the coast path and a field close to where her clothing was found

20 November: Police announce Paul Elsey, Ms Dinch, and Nathan Elsey are to face no action

Morrisons has cut fuel prices by 10p per litre – but there’s a catch

ONE Morrisons store in Bradford is offering a ten pence reduction on fuel costs for the next two weeks.

The supermarket in Mayo Avenue is cutting fuel prices by 10p, for customers who spend £50 in-store before Sunday, November 26.

Shoppers will then have until Sunday, December 3, to use the ‘Black Five Days Fuel’ voucher at the store.

For a vehicle with a 50-litre tank, this works out as a saving of £5.

The cut comes as fuel prices are forecast to rise by up to 8p per litre in the run up to Christmas, following a 30 per cent rise in the price of oil since the summer.

Fuel duty could also rise for the first time in seven years in the Government’s Autumn Budget, which will be revealed by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond on Wednesday.

Steve Mosey, Morrisons services director, said: “Motorists could face a triple-whammy of rising petrol prices, extra fuel tax and a busy Christmas shopping season so we’re doing what we can to help them afford to run their cars.”

Morrisons has cut fuel prices by 10p per litre

ONE Morrisons store in Bradford is offering a ten pence reduction on fuel costs for the next two weeks.

The supermarket in Mayo Avenue is cutting fuel prices by 10p, for customers who spend £50 in-store before Sunday, November 26.

Shoppers will then have until Sunday, December 3, to use the ‘Black Five Days Fuel’ voucher at the store.

For a vehicle with a 50-litre tank, this works out as a saving of £5.

The cut comes as fuel prices are forecast to rise by up to 8p per litre in the run up to Christmas, following a 30 per cent rise in the price of oil since the summer.

Fuel duty could also rise for the first time in seven years in the Government’s Autumn Budget, which will be revealed by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond on Wednesday.

Steve Mosey, Morrisons services director, said: “Motorists could face a triple-whammy of rising petrol prices, extra fuel tax and a busy Christmas shopping season so we’re doing what we can to help them afford to run their cars.”

Kezia Dugdale demeans politics with jungle programme, says MSP

Neil Findlay
Image caption Neil Findlay was speaking on the BBC‘s Sunday Politics Scotland programme

A leading Labour MSP has strongly criticised his former leader for taking part in a reality television show.

Neil Findlay, a prominent supporter of new Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, said Kezia Dugdale’s participation in ITV‘s I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here was “ludicrous”.

Mr Leonard has already said Ms Dugdale could face suspension by Labour.

Ms Dugdale has not spoken about the programme, which begins a new series later.

However, it is understood that she intends to donate her parliamentary salary to charity while she is in Australia taking part in the programme.

Speaking on the BBC‘s Sunday Politics Scotland programme, Mr Findlay said: “I think it’s an utterly ludicrous, ludicrous position.

“You have a situation where we’re in the run up to the budget in Scotland. Where local government is on its knees. Where the NHS is showing pressures like never before.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kezia Dugdale is believed to be travelling to Australia to take part in the ITV programme

“When people‘s living standards are falling, they expect their MPs, MSPs, councillors and all elected representatives to be in fighting on their behalf.

“I don’t think people would expect them to jet off around the world and sit around a camp fire eating a kangaroo’s appendage.”

The ITV programme is famous for asking its participants to eat unusual items of food.

Mr Findlay added: “I think it demeans politics when people get involved in that. I think we’ve a very serious job to do.

“People out there are struggling and there’s huge pressures on public services. That’s the job you should be doing.

“I take my job very seriously, so do my colleagues, and they would expect better.”

Image caption Mr Findlay: “I don’t think people would expect them to jet off around the world and sit around a camp fire eating a kangaroo’s appendage.”

Mr Leonard, who was elected leader on Saturday, has repeated his comments that he was “disappointed” Ms Dugdale had chosen to take part in the show.

But he told the BBC it was only a distraction “when the media keep asking about it” and said he did not support the “hasty” calls for Ms Dugdale to be suspended.

Mr Leonard spent much of Sunday campaigning in Rutherglen, ahead of a council by-election.

“I’m out here today to speak to real people and find out what their issues are,” he said.

“Whether it’s precarious employment, whether it’s their rents going up, whether their sons and daughters can find work, whether it’s older people who are not looking forward to a winter where they’ll be living in fuel poverty.

“I suspect these are the real and important issues that people will be speaking to us about when we go round this community today and not about who’s in the jungle and who’s not.”

Gerry Adams to outline political future at Sinn Féin conference

Gerry Adams
Image caption Gerry Adams said the party had a plan for “orderly leadership change”

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams is expected to set out a plan to step down from party leadership later.

Mr Adams, who has led Sinn Féin since 1983, will speak at the party’s ard fhéis (annual conference) in Dublin.

It is expected that Mr Adams will not step down immediately but will outline his transition from leadership.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin’s Stormont leader has called on the Irish government to appoint a minister with responsibility for advancing Irish unity.

Michelle O’Neill told the party conference that a parliamentary committee in the Republic of Ireland should also be formed to look at a united Ireland.

In September, Mr Adams said he would set out his “future intentions” if re-elected party leader at the conference.

Mr Adams also said that a 10-year plan for “orderly leadership change” was being finalised.

He said the plan had previously been outlined by former deputy party leader Martin McGuinness, who died earlier this year.

Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption Catalonian MEP Jordi Solé and Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald addressed the conference on Saturday morning

The party conference opened on Friday.

Brexit and the ongoing political deadlock over power-sharing in Northern Ireland are expected to be major topics of discussion.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin have failed to reach agreement in restore a power-sharing government at Stormont despite numerous rounds of talks since March’s assembly elections.

The Stormont government collapsed in January.


Analysis: Chris Page, BBC News Ireland correspondent

Gerry Adams has been one of the most significant and divisive figures in Irish politics for almost half a century.

Security sources believe he was senior IRA member during the Troubles but Mr Adams has always denied being in the organisation.

He became known worldwide as the face of the republican movement during its transition from violence to peace.

His leadership won’t be ending straight away but he has said he’ll reveal more about a plan for change he’d agreed with his long-term ally Martin McGuinness, before Mr McGuinness’ death earlier this year.

Part of that plan has already been put in place with the appointment of Michelle O’Neill to lead the party at Stormont.


Opening proceedings on Saturday morning, the party’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said that “agreement can only be secured and institutions re-established on a sustainable basis when agreements previously agreed to are honoured by all”.

Later, Mrs O’Neill told the conference that the “Irish government has a clear responsibility” regarding a united Ireland.

“It needs to bring forward a political plan to unite and reinvent the country in the modern era,” she said.

“The government should publish a green paper on Irish unity, which indentifies the steps and measures that are for a successful transition to a United Ireland.”

She added that the government should establish a government committee on Irish reunification and a government minister with the “dedicated and specific responsibility of developing strategies to advance Irish unity”.

Mrs O’Neill also told the conference that Brexit was “an act of political vandalism” that would be a “disaster” for Northern Ireland.

The conference also heard from Jordi Solé, a Catalan MEP, who spoke about the region’s independence movement.

Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption Michelle O’Neill told the conference that Brexit was an “act of political vandalism”

Later on Saturday, party members could vote to liberalise Sinn Féin’s policy on abortion.

A motion will be put to allow abortions in cases when “a woman‘s life, health or mental health is at serious risk or in grave danger, fatal foetal abnormality and rape or sexual abuse”.

Mrs O’Neill has said she will support the motion, which will set the party policy for both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.